Ralph Reed is having an awfully bad year. His friendship with Jack Abramoff and the revelation that Ralphie Boy took a whole lot of casino money to prop up his Christian lobbying gig isn’t going down all that well with his flock.
We’ve previously reported on Ralph Reed’s trials and tribulations here, here and here, just for starters, but a story in The Nation really lays it all out on the table for everyone and I wanted to toss it out there for consideration.
…As executive director of the Christian Coalition from its founding in 1989 until his departure in 1997, Reed got — and took — the lion’s share of credit for transforming the politically unsophisticated evangelical right into a disciplined Republican Party machine. "Ralph Reed symbolizes the rise of the Christian right to political power," says Frederick Clarkson, author of "Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy." "He became the story of the movement — the face and voice for those millions of conservative Christians in the mainstream press. Now he’s becoming a symbol of what’s gone awry."
Last June Georgia’s former GOP House minority leader Bob Irvin blasted Reed in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed. "His M.O. is to tell evangelical Christians that his cause of the moment, for which he has been hired, is their religious duty," Irvin fumed. "As an evangelical myself, I resent Christianity being used simply to help Reed’s business."
Irvin’s dart went straight to the heart of the matter. While grassroots organizing has been the key to lifting evangelicals to power in the GOP, the movement’s political model has mostly mirrored the traditional hierarchy of churches, with trusted leaders setting the tone and issuing marching orders to their foot soldiers. What if the generals — the Reeds and James Dobsons — are proven to care more about power and money than stamping out abortion or homosexuality? The damage to evangelical politics would clearly be immense. So would the damage to the Republican Party, which cannot carry a national election without the full enthusiasm and participation of the evangelical troops.
"Think what will happen on Election Day when 2 to 3 percent of the previously most passionate Republicans stay home," Joseph Farah, editor and publisher of the right-wing WorldNetDaily, warned in January. "Think of what it will mean when 20 to 30 percent of the grassroots activists Republicans have counted on to work for them don’t show up."…
Think about that for a moment — and then transpose yesterday’s DeLay announcements about leaving the House and his public professions of Christian martyrdom for the conservative cause. And add in Digby’s theory on where DeLay might be headed once he leaves the House.
At some point, even the snake oil salesmen lose their grip on the crowd. The question is, are we at that moment now? And if not, then when?
The Nation article is a thought provoking read. And I’d love to get everyone’s thoughts on this one, because it goes to the heart of the political divide that I see opening a wider and wider chasm in this country. The question I keep asking myself is how do we rebuild the bridges, if ever.
(Screen grab from the ever-hilarious Chicken Run.)